Is it true that rock is dead?

Led Zeppelin IV rock albumDan Ozzi writes in a June 14 article in “Noisey” that rock is dead. A provocative declaration. Eclipsed in popularity by EDM, rap, and pop, the genre hangs on for nostalgic elders and young aficionados who follow niche styles like heavy metal. At least so claims Ozzi. I have no doubt this contains some truth. Well-known rockers may still be able to sell out shows, but who is the audience? The charts and tastes of younger audiences favor anything but rock, which has fallen away much as has R&B/soul. Continue reading →

Would you sell your soul to the devil for a music career?

A musician's bargain with the devilMusic and the devil always make an intriguing mix. Throw in heavy metal, and you have a tantalizing brew. Now that I’ve revived my interest in writing horror stories, I’m paying more attention to books I might have missed. One enjoyable resource is Books in the Freezer, a podcast series created by two horror fans, Rachel and Stephanie. I like how their personalities and different tastes emerge as they make recommendations, interview authors, and preview what’s on the horizon. They recently discussed We Sold Our Souls, a novel by Grady Hendrix that comes out in September. I’m already salivating in anticipation for this horror story about a 90s heavy metal band. Continue reading →

Finally, a resurgence of great protest music in America

Childish Gambino, protest song "This Is AmericaAfter a decade of bland tunes dominating the pop world, good music has at last stormed the country. This has happened largely under the guise of protest music. I use the term broadly to mean music that confronts social ills. This could be injustice, conformity, hypocrisy, whatever. Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” has thrust the matter into the spotlight, of course. Discourse about the song has flooded the news cycle, spawned YouTube commentary, and propelled the music video to an astonishing almost one billion views. Although not the only cause, the rise and election of Donald Trump certainly energized this wave. Perhaps this heralds a new era of great music. Continue reading →

Great musicals inspired by “The Wizard of Oz”

The Wizard of Oz posterSince it’s 1939 release, The Wizard of Oz has become an enduring part of American popular culture. For the film adaptation, the writers took liberties with Frank L. Baum’s novel. The film, rather than novel, has come to define the elements of the Oz story. The annual holiday broadcast, starting in 1956, ensured a lasting presence for generations of children. The film gives us memorable songs, a classic epic hero quest, and a powerful message, topped with Judy Garland’s endearing performance. More remarkably, the movie has inspired several reinterpretations. Each one has become great in its own right. While there have been a number of retellings, three examples stand out. Continue reading →